Despite several withdrawals, twenty cars are set to take to the grid for this weekend’s South Island Endurance Series three-hour opener at Highlands.
Glenn Smith and late recruit Glen Chappel are steering the SBT Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3 and will be one of the favourites for victory.
But they will be hard pushed by Chris van der Drift and Lance Hughes in the sole Nissan GT-R GT3 this weekend.
The duo was uber-competitive in the North Island Endurance Series. Were it not for some poor luck they may have finished higher than fourth in the standings.
Unfortunately, the highly anticipated Brabham BT62 is stuck in Auckland, as are another pair of GT-Rs and a McLaren 720S GT3. There are also no Audi R8s this weekend.
Nick Ross and Sam Collins are running the tweaked-up MARC II V8, which now features a brand-new telemetry system.
The team understand they can’t challenge the GT3 cars on raw speed but could be there or thereabouts for the final spot on the overall podium.
As usual, there are a solid number of Porsche 911s on the grid.
Ex-World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon is with Martin Dippie in a first-gen 911 Cup Car.
Scott O’Donnell returns with his rebuilt 911 GT3R following a heavy crash at Teretonga in 2019. He teams up with Allan Dippie this season.
After a mammoth intake of entries, there are two one-hour races per round this year.
The first race is for Classes A (0-2000cc) and B (2001-3500cc), with 29 entries for the weekend.
Defending Class A champion Andre Gibson returns with his Honda Civic.
Class B witnesses an intriguing TCR battle. Two Audis, one Hyundai and a sole Seat TCR head to Cromwell.
The second one-hour race is for Classes C (3501+ cc) and D (GT).
This season, Jordan Michels graduates to Class C and debuts the exciting Ford Focus Marc car, powered by a Coyote V8 motor.
Chris Henderson is back with his V8 Toyota 86. Though he won’t be alone in that regard with Grant and Ben Williams racing their V8 86.
The GT class could easily be rebranded the Porsche Class, for 17 German machines are on the entry list for the weekend.
Among these are former series winners Marco Schelp and Martin Dippie, returnees Chris and Johnny Small, and rookie Ryan Wood.
Testing is on Friday before qualifying Saturday morning.
The first one-hour race then begins at 10.20 am.
Download the full entry list here:
Main Image: Euan Cameron